Tolerance means the power of a person to put up with certain things which he does not like. It enables a man to bear things, which are not according to his taste. We may not like certain people yet we manage to live with those people.
Tolerance has great importance in human life. It plays a vital role in the stability of a society. Societies comprise individuals. Individuals are interconnected. They need to tolerate each other’s behavior. If they do not do so, there will be a condition of chaos and disharmony. Tolerance has widespread effects. It affects human life at individual, domestic, national, and international levels.
The importance of tolerance is undeniable in an individual’s life. Man has to cope with different challenges in life. Tolerance is also a challenge for him. In order to cultivate good social relations, he has to put up with people around him. Training starts at home. Schools play an important role on the second number. A child learns many things in school. He learns how to behave in a good manner and how to react in certain unwanted conditions. He studies, and plays with his schoolmates. During all these activities, he gets training in his behavior and conduct. His conduct is polished in school. He makes friends. Even in friendship, tolerance is the fundamental rule to be followed. If friends do not tolerate each other, then it will be impossible to carry on friendship. In friendship, one has to bear many things. This is the basic pillar of building a friendship.
Man is a social animal. His life is not limited to home or school. He has to socialize in order to pursue certain ends. The foundation of socialization lies on the principle of “give and take”. One cannot always be on the receiving end. Reciprocation is inevitable. This cannot be achieved without tolerance. One has to be broad-minded and moderate in one’s dealings to achieve desired results of socialization. There can be certain issues on which one may differ from the other, but one must have the ability to endure the difference of opinion. Voltaire has beautifully elucidated this idea in his saying:
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it till death.”
This highlights the importance of dissent in a society as well as in an individual’s life. Tolerance teaches us to sacrifice. Instead of being selfish, tolerance impresses upon us the idea of sacrificing for others. When one compromises on another’s weaknesses one displays a sense of tolerance. We cannot pull on with life without exhibiting the trait of tolerance. Tolerance rests on the idea of ‘give and take’ without which smooth sailing in life is not possible. Tolerance represents the essence of life.
Domestic affairs also need tolerance. Home consists of family and family consists of a group of people living together. Though family is a single unit but it has many individuals having different minds and thoughts. Each member of a family is a complete mind with its own way. Every member has his own set of feelings. In order to live together, all the members need to tolerate certain things, which they may not like otherwise.
We can take the example of a husband and a wife. They are said to be two wheels of a carriage. Difference of opinion can emerge any time between them. Instead of fighting they can solve the issue through negotiation and discussion. Fighting is an unhealthy act which spoils peace of home, and can have deleterious effects on the upbringing of children.
Parents’ fighting affects children very badly. It lessens their peace of mind, their mental capacity, their confidence and adversely affects their emotions. Many children involved in delinquency or crimes are often found to be victims of broken families. So parents have to show greater amounts of tolerance in order to bring up their children in an environment of peace and cordiality.
In many families, disputes of division of property often arise. Members of the family fight terribly over this dispute. These matters can be solved in a civilized manner instead of getting into any maladroit practice.
Tolerance also has a great impact on the national level. Democracy is the most important phenomena in this regard. It fosters tolerance in people to a considerable level. It teaches a lesson of tolerance. Opposition can openly criticize the government. Government tolerates this criticism with open heart, formalities, and graphs its policies in the light of criticism. Criticism of the opposition is also not for the sake of criticism. Parliament can openly point out any ambiguous situation and hence a healthy framework of policies can be carved out.
Pakistan has, so far, not been able to harbor democracy in true sense. Democracy has either fallen victim to dictatorship or to the mutual confrontation of the selfish political leadership. This dilemma did not let democracy flourish in Pakistan.
Democracy is the best way to promote tolerance in Pakistan. If we want to promote tolerance, democracy is the best course of doing so.
The nation of Pakistan has split itself into Punjabis, Sindhis and Balochis. They have lost integrity and solidarity. They do not think mutually for the benefit of Pakistan. They are mentally divided. If people want peace and harmony in Pakistan, they need to develop more and more tolerance. They need to bring more adaptability in themselves. Tolerance can bind people together. Tolerance is not only important to an individual on domestic and national level but also projects marked effects on the international canvas.
At the international level, nations deal with other nations. Every nation has its own sovereignty. Many have fought wars on the question of sovereignty. History witnesses several revolutions too.
The French Revolution was brought in France. It took ten years of chaos and bloodshed. World Wars, first and second, are also worth-mentioning here. These wars brought immense damage to the lives of thousands of people. These wars were fought for self-interests. Cold war is also an extension of this idea. Communists could not tolerate capitalists and capitalists were unable to bear the communists. This difference of ideas divided the whole of the world into the Communist Block and the Capitalist Block. These two blocks fought for the realization of their own interests and also manipulated the other small and poor countries to align with either of the two. This all happened because no power was ready to tolerate the other. The philosophy of coexistence suffered a great set back due to lack of tolerance on the part of the US and the former USSR.
The world has become unipolar from bipolar since 1991, but the peace is yet to be established at the world level. Now the United States of America, being a superpower, is exploiting the situation and running the show according to its own will. America has adopted the path of intolerance. It is in a mood to impose upon the whole world its hegemony. The American attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly throw light on the tyrannical conduct of America. This is all due to the selfish vision and intolerant attitude of America. It has to be more tolerant in order to win trust of the small nations in particular.
The study of “International Relations” also reveals two distinct theories, i.e., ‘Realism’ and ‘Idealism’. Realism deals with power games. It tells us that every nation strives for power by any means. On the other hand, ‘Idealism’ gives the idea of peace and tolerance. The world can exist with the idea of brotherhood. No wars would be fought then. It is very clear that if we all adopt the theory of idealism, wars can be averted and peace can be brought in the world. The trouble with the big powers is that they are obsessed with the intoxication of power and strength to foist aggression on the weak nations to realize their ambitions. They care a little about idealism.
Tolerance has great importance in the religion too. Every religion teaches tolerance. Islam in particular gives immense value to the idea of tolerance. It clearly advises Muslims to follow the path of tolerance. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) also practiced tolerance. He (PBUH) showed the attitude of great tolerance towards the Jews. Even after conquering Makkah, the Prophet (PBUH) forgave the opponents, which is a magnificent example of Prophet’s (PBUH) tolerance. Likewise, if one sees the personal life of the Prophet (PBUH), one finds great examples of tolerance. One of the examples is:
There was an old non-Muslim woman in Makkah, who used to throw garbage on Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) when he passed by her home in the street. It was her routine, but Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) never said a single bad word to her. One day Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) passed by her street and no garbage was thrown on him. He (PBUH) became worried about the old woman and went to her home to inquire about her. He (PBUH) found the lady very sick. He (PBUH) cleaned her home, fetched her water, and served her food. The old lady was embarrassed of her previous attitude. She was extremely impressed with the conduct of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and entered in the fold of Islam, Subhan Allah!
We see and find many other such beautiful examples in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He also entered into treaties with the non-Muslims. HE (PBUH) had a very big heart. His conduct preaches us to follow the path of tolerance. Allah advises Muslims to practice the path of tolerance.
The Muslims have discarded this lesson of Islam. They have developed their own versions. Muslim Ummah is divided into various religious sects. They have sectioned themselves into Sunnis, Shias, Wahhabis, and many more.
Intolerance breeds hatred. This hatred has pushed Muslims apart from each other. They have lost the sense of solidarity. They are striving for their own individual interests instead for interests of the whole Muslim Ummah. This thing has weakened the unity of Muslims. They need to grow more tolerant towards each other if they want to attain strength for survival. They should march towards stability by cutting this tug of war of parochialism.
Terrorism is also an extension of intolerant behavior. The soil of Pakistan is also not devoid of the maladroit effects of terrorism. Many people die every day. Terrorists need to wake up their conscience and be tolerant. Intolerance would only lead to a total disaster.
The importance of tolerance on an individual, domestic, national, and international levels is clearly evident. Its importance cannot be denied in any sphere of life. It affects our lives very deeply. An intolerant behavior only leads to destruction and chaos. It breeds hatred. If we see the dream of a peaceful world, we need to practice tolerance as much as we can. Tolerance promotes peace and love. It demolishes hatred and paves way for mutual cordial relations. Tolerance nurtures acceptability and adaptability which serves to be the foundation of a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous society which in turn adds to the peace of the world.
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